High-quality cannabis in slang / SUN 8-15-21 / Racial justice movement since 2013 in brief / Nonwriting credentials for Conan Doyle and Chekhov informally / Avant-garde artists Congo and Pierre Brassau / Spirit in Arabian myth / Playwright Will who was a 2005 Pulitzer finalist

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Constructor: Aimee Lucido and Ella Dershowitz

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: DOUBLE CROSS (69A: Betray ... or a hint to four answers in this puzzle) — familiar phrases containing numbers appear in the grid with that number halved ... but then the number actually crosses the letter string "TWO," so ... crosses "TWO" = x 2 = doubled. The "TWO" cross doubles the number back to what it's supposed to be, hence "DOUBLE CROSS":

Theme answers:
  • ONE-FACED (27A: Duplicitous) (i.e. two-faced) (x/w ATWOOD)
  • TWO-LETTER WORDS (i.e. four-letter words) (52A: #$%& and @%¢!) (x/w ATWORST)
  • THREE FEET UNDER (i.e. six feet under) (85A: Pushing up daisies) (x/w "ITWORKS!")
  • FOUR BALL (i.e. eight ball) (113A: What the beleaguered are behind) (x/w "JUSTWOW")
Word of the Day: Will ENO (14D: Playwright Will who was a 2005 Pulitzer finalist) —
Will Eno (born 1965) is an American playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. His play, Thom Pain (based on nothing) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 2005. His play The Realistic Joneses appeared on Broadway in 2014, where it received a Drama Desk Special Award and was named Best Play on Broadway by USA Today, and best American play of 2014 by The Guardian. His play The Open House was presented Off-Broadway at the Signature Theatre in 2014 and won the Obie Award for Playwriting as well as other awards, and was on both TIME Magazine and Time Out New York 's Top Ten Plays of 2014. (wikipedia)
• • •

There's a cleverness to this concept, but ultimately it's a bit one-note, and the theme feels very thin. I get that the "TWO" crosses mean that there are really technically eight theme answers (besides the revealer), but it doesn't feel that way. It feels like four, and four is thin. Also, once you grok the concept, there's not much left to discover, and no real new cleverness left to discover. 2x1 is 2, 2x2 is 4, and so on. You could just go down to all the themers you didn't have yet and get them pretty easily. The issue isn't just "does it work?" but "is it fun? is it joyful? does it hold surprises?" There just wasn't enough oomph to this one for me. Some of this flatness could've been made up for in the fill, but the grid is not built in such a way that allows for a lot of longer, showier answers. POP A WHEELIE (118A: Be up for some biking?) and LOUDMOUTH (25A: Blabberer) definitely give the grid some life, but mostly what you have is a very choppy, black-squarey grid and (consequently) a preponderance of shorter answers; thus, not a lot of especially lively fill (though the overall quality is more than sufficiently smooth and solid). The best, most creative moments actually come in the various "TWO"-containing answers. Kinda tough to make that work out for times, crossing the appropriate number each time, and as you can see, difficulty often leads to cool innovation; "JUST ... WOW"(82D: "I. Can't. Even.") is the very best example of this, though "IT WORKS" (80D: "Success!") is also inventive. The theme concept is sturdy, but it doesn't lead to a ton of solving joy. I found myself wishing the whole experience were, I don't know, PERKIER, maybe?

Not really a fan of the longer-than-themers non-theme answers which are always awkward to my eye and occasionally (as they were today) slightly confusing. The first long Across even has a "?" clue, so both its size and it's "?" scream "THEME!" but then ... no. Anticlimax. It's just WIRETAPPING, and WIRETAPPING has nothing to do with the theme, despite being the longest answer in the top quarter of the grid. I think the relative smallness of ONEFACED and FOURBALL are also contributing to my sense that the theme material is thin. There aren't really any particularly vexing clues today, and no answers (besides the non-Brian ENO) that were unknown to me. My brain is currently nibbling on the weirdness of the fact that DON'T ASK (26D: Response to "How bad was it?") is one letter-removal away from ON TASK. Last week it was nibbling on the fact that HIDEOUS is one letter change, one letter step, in fact, from HIDEOUT. Tiny structural changes that result in big meaning changes are very much my jam. But none of this has anything to do with the crossword per se. My apologies. I just don't have much else to say here. I hope you grooved on this one more than I did. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. Can't believe I forgot to mention that the LOLLAPUZZOOLA CROSSWORD TOURNAMENT is NEXT SATURDAY (Aug. 21). Entirely on-line. Five puzzles! Two skill divisions! Puzzles by constructors I adore, like Robyn Weintraub, Wyna Liu, Brooke Husic, and Patti Varol! My wife did it last year, as did my daughter (in a completely different part of the country), and they had a blast solving and chatting the day away. It's late August, what else do you have to do? Get on it! More information and tickets available HERE

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:01 AM  

If you subscribe to the NYT Puzzle only online, you got an additional challenge today. Instead of all the TWOs being shaded, only the two in ATWOOD and the “T” in ATWORST were shaded. Had me scratching my head for a while; finally decided it was a mistake (it was) and moved on.

An unusual puzzle in that it is an outstanding feat of construction and was also fun to solve. And on a Sunday! Nice work!

okanaganer 12:40 AM  

Nail polish brand (?) crossing Samoan capital (?) = APIA / OPI was awful.

And quite nearby, for 9 down 'Star man?' (cuz I thought Sarcastic internet laughter was LOLS) I had SAGA- which just had had had to be Carl SAGAN!

Ages ago I had a brilliant idea for a crossword, with the theme "double cross", where, for instance, BENEDICT and ARNOLD would each cross, say, AMERICA. In other words he double-crosses America. Brilliant! But quite extremely impossible to construct.

(.puz link still worked tonight: https://www.nytimes.com/svc/crosswords/v2/puzzle/daily-2021-08-15.puz)

Joe Dipinto 12:43 AM  

Nobody talks about getting a "Zagat star". Zagat always used a numerical rating system topping out at 30; in 2016 it briefly converted to a five-point system (fractionally displayed with stars), and then it switched back a year or two ago to the original numerical 30-point system.

They seem to have confused the Zagat Guide with the Michelin Guide, which gives 1, 2, or 3 stars. Receiving a Michelin star, or getting one taken away, is a huge deal for a restaurant.

This was a DNF for me. I wrote in TWO, TWO, TWO, and TWO off the title, then tossed it aside. I.couldn't.even.

Monty Boy 12:51 AM  

I liked this one a lot - Except the square at 6A, 9D.

Silly me, I thought the plural of LOL is an "s", making the 9D sAGAT. Carl Sagan is known as the star man, so that had to make the last letter and "n". Except UTERI sure looked right. How about UnERI? Trying to cheat, there's no UnERI in Google, but there is a development site, Eneri (help developing your web site I guess), but that makes 8D LINEeP and that doesn't make sense. I spent many nano seconds (make that mega seconds) trying to sort that out and uttering several TWOxTWOLETTERWORDS. Had to eventually hit reveal for that square.

BTW, if you Google Zagat, it's a new restaurant rating site that doesn't use stars and is only available in Miami. If there's more to it, I don't know about Zagat, nor does Google. Maybe I'm the only one ignorant of that system.

Also, apparently I'm too old to know the current way to make LOL a plural.

Enough kvetching. I was pleased to remember APIA, JINN from earlier puzzles and to learn LIEF. I got the theme at TWOxTHREE FEET UNDER. My version of the NYT app had the three squares for the TWOs shaded. The rest of the puzzle was medium for me and mostly enjoyable.

Bax'N'Nex 12:55 AM  

I don’t know if I’m late to the party, but just read “Thinking Inside the Box”. All about Xwords and the people like us…

Great read. Author’s last name is Raphel (I’m pretty sure). Mike is quoted a couple times, but still a good book.

And don’t buy on (shudder) Amazon. Support a local bookstore. Unless, of course, you want to help fund JB’s next joyride in his rocket…

Definitely recommend.

Del Taco 12:56 AM  

Clever, fun puzzle
I liked the clue for ZAGAT , "Star man ?"

Bax'N'Nex 12:56 AM  

I had four areas shaded, Joaquin…and I have NYT app

David 12:59 AM  

Yeah; we liked it more than OFL, but there were a few hiccups. 9D, for example, seems to be errant (ZAGAT didn’t award stars). For the most part, tho, it was zippy and fun for us.

Anonymous 1:21 AM  

72D: Job to do = stint
I think of "stint" as a length of time doing a job or task, and not the job itself.

Ken Freeland 1:40 AM  

I grooved on this puzzle even less than Rex. The NW corner was too much of a challenge for me, and this was particularly true of SAMOAN CAPITAL, which I happen not to know. So what cross clues do I get to help me? A NAIL POLISH BRAND (good luck with that one, guys) and "STAR MAN." I kept wanting to put SAGAN in for that, but "UTERI" was such a splendid answer I couldn't take it out. Turns out the answer is SAGAT, whoever he was, so I had to take another DNF thanks to Mr.Shortz's wonderful editing. Is it true that the puzzle editor's middle name is "Natick?" Will Natick Shortz... Has a kind of ring to it (NOT!).

tim 1:41 AM  

Fake-out answer for “Star man?”: thought it was SAGAN, which would’ve been more literal, but also cooler.

jae 1:55 AM  

Easy. Cute idea, liked it.

chefwen 2:10 AM  

I EVER SO enjoyed this puzzle. It was on the easy side, but fun.

THREE FEET UNDER made me laugh, I have no idea why, but it did. I also laughed at TWO LETTER WORDS, guess I’m easily amused.

I had never heard of STONE SOUP and it was interesting to read about.

Bobby Flays kitty is named NACHO. We’re getting a new addition to our family in two weeks, her name is Mango, can’t wait.

Thank you for the fun Aimee and Ella.

Frantic Sloth 2:12 AM  

Impressive construction, clever concept, not flashy, but serviceable. Mathy.


okanaganer 2:32 AM  

OK it's official... the correct answer for "Star man" is SAGAN. QED.

Thank you all and goodnight!

Selmersba 3:31 AM  

Hello cruciverbalists!! Does anyone know how to print a Sunday NYT puzzle in two pages? Since Across Lite bit the dust, I’m lost!’

Loren Muse Smith 3:55 AM  

I have to disagree with Rex on the lack of joy once you’ve figured out the trick. I TEASED it out with TWO FACED, and I figuring out the subsequent themers’ number element did give me a bit of joy. Not jumping on the yellow couch joy ala Tom Cruise, but still.

I do agree that the deft disguising of the TWOs almost upstaged everything else.

I imagine the Sagan-before-ZAGAT-mistakers will be legion today. (Hi, @Monty Boy, @Tom Freeland, @tim, @okanager, ET AL.)

Before I had figured out the trick, my “things that may be rubbed after din-din” were “tum-tums,” and I immediately thought theme and looked down at 91D, certain that it would also have a reduplicative clue and answer.

Boy I tell ya, if we’ve had LIEF before, I’ve long forgotten it.

Loved, loved, loved the clues for IKEA and BRR.

ROBO call – Mom gets a crap ton of these every single day. The fact that they’re so prevalent makes me think that in some way they’re paying off for companies? Seriously? I’d as lief listen to Mom’s Fox news (DON TASK - WEB of lies, TWIT, LOUDMOUTH NOISES, RIOT. . .)

Elegant that the themers progress from ONE to FOUR. I started to think of possibilities with FIVE and SIX but realized that the next possible number would have to be EIGHT and then TEN since the numbers have to cross the letter T, W, or O.

Impressive construction, Aimee and Ella. Congrats!

Robin 4:42 AM  

Theme, I had no complaints. Possibly because I no longer have any expectations that the Sunday puzz will prove a decent theme. Alas, alas....

Aside from that, seemed like a I hit double Natick up near the top left. I should know that 19A is frequent crossword-ese, but sorry, I forgot. And I am heterosexual male, so with 7D, I have no clues.

After staring at this thing for 6-7-8 minutes, finally grokked the first two letters of 9D and belatedly pieced things together. But what about CW peeps who live somewhere that that 9D does not rate?

And frankly the clueing that 5A is alleged;y sarcastic... is that right?

Zwhatever 4:48 AM  

@Selmersba - Click on the link provided by @okanaganer12:40 and open in Across Lite then do your thing.

More about ZAGAT - apparently not a Google success story.

Pretty much what Rex said about the puzzle, especially the longer than theme answers that weren’t theme answers. The wrongness of such crossworld sacrilege should be obvious to everyone.

OPI/APIA is such an esey πŸ–•πŸΎ to new solvers. Why do either of these NIBLETs take up space in the ol’ mental filing cabinet? Because I solve crosswords.

There’s another ENO?

Conrad 5:53 AM  

Zipped through this. On the second TWO, filled in the other two TWOs. But then no victory music. Everything checked out, until I asked the great god Sergeynlarry, "What is the capital of Samoa?" That corrected my AvIA (a shoe brand, I know) and got me the mini-concerto. Shame on me for flunking CSL (Crosswordese as a Second Language) 101.

Playing with language in the way the puzzle does brought to mind another similar routine, only in the opposite direction: https://youtu.be/WmpLUezDzoo

Lewis 6:18 AM  

This puzzle has the perfect title and reveal, and that marvelous answer JUST WOW is a debut. What did it feel like to solve? It through me into a lovely place, like I slipped into a roadster and jaunted through wide open road as well as countryside, breathing fresh air, and smiling as I coasted. Just freewheelin’ along.

I don’t know why, but this puzzle took me there right from the start and right to the last square. Breezy, cozy, and sweet. I don’t want to analyze it because I don’t want to break the spell. But A&E, I am EVER SO grateful for the ride!

mmorgan 6:48 AM  

I found it mostly quite easy, except for a few squares here and there — eg, the OPI / APIA cross. I didn’t realize that the themers were all crossed by the letters TWO. That gives me some appreciation for the construction / architecture, but it had nothing to do with my solve.

sf27shirley 7:01 AM  

Zagat has been around for decades and is probably the most frequently consulted guide for NYC restaurants that there is.

sf27shirley 7:10 AM  

WIRETAPPING doesn't just bug criminals. Too bad the constructors didn't clue this as "it caused Nixon's downfall" or "Hoover practiced this against Martin Luther King, the Black Panther Party and other radicals." In fact, the Supremes' 8-0 ruling that warrantless wiretapping was unconstitutional was what led to Watergate.

chance2travel 7:15 AM  

Easy-Medium for me, given the Thursday-ish theme. Agree with Rex that it felt like the paucity of theme answers was then overwhelmed by a sea of small crosswordese fill.

Got the theme at TWO LETTER WORDS and since I had TWO in the shaded boxes of 1D, went and filled in the remaining shaded squares.

Then I looked at WIRETAPPING and sat there ADDLEd trying to figure out what a "double wire" was before realizing I'd filled in ONEFACED. I think that practicing speed solving on early-week puzzles has trained me to accept "more or less" reasonable answers, so I didn't even realize ONEFACED isn't the saying

My experience on ZAGAT was similar to other commenters: tried sAGAn, got UTERI, sAGAT didn't look right, 1A must be LOLZ

Hot Take - the clue is wrong but not for the reasons above:

Yes, the ratings started out on a 30 point scale, but in either 2011 or 2016, they converted to a 5 star rating system - so the "Star" part of the clue is fine.

The problem is ZAGAT was created and operated by the married couple "Tim and Nina" so simply putting "Man" in the clue is wrong (and also bad form to edit out the woman's contribution)

@Monty Boy ZAGAT was started in 1979 and widely used in New York City for decades. It was sold to Google and then spun off again, which is why the app only covers Miami currently.

Update - it appears ZAGAT has changed the rating system *again* and now it's a 10 point scale

Son Volt 7:16 AM  

The theme wasn’t worth all the black squares required to pull it off. I mean JUST WOW - when an ADDAMS Family reference is your top entry you have issues. From the start with LOLZ atop APIA to OKD, TUTEE, SPAT, RRS and on and on this was Sunday sized slop.

The theme was cute - and unlike Rex I thought the long non-themers were a plus. It’s all the other near-pangram stuff that pulls this down.

Anonymous 7:40 AM  

Yes, easy in terms of figuring out the theme … but there were some tricky answers. I got stumped on the P in Opi and Apia.

kitshef 7:46 AM  

Fairly tough Sunday, even with the theme falling early.

I met someone who lived in a BIODOME. Specifically the late Sally Silverstone from Biosphere 2. That mission failed primarily due to falling oxygen levels, but they learned a lot about operating closed systems. They were on very calorie-restricted diets, but apparently they would all eat even less than their ration, then save up for a big feast, which was vital to morale.

I met her when I was a volunteer on a project she was running on sustainable forestry in Puerto Rico. Lots of similarities to the Biosphere project … trying to extract a living from an area without losing resources. A remarkable woman.

bocamp 7:58 AM  

Thx, Aimee & Ella for a perfect Sun. puz!

Med. solve.

Good start in the NW with ATWOOD, LIEF( old xword-ese), TRAITS, ETTAS, SACS, OKD, etc.

Got the theme right off the bat with ONE-FACED.

Leisurely moseyed thru the puz, with LOLZ / ZAGAT being the only holdup (had to run the alphab; glad I was focused, cos 'Z' turned on my light bulb). Maybe I'll finally remember the 'star man'.

Knew JINN from the Spelling Bee, which can also be JINNi.

Fun adventure! :)

yd 0 (toughest solve yet) πŸ‘

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Adam 8:20 AM  

I feel like it should be pointed out also, that "ENDO" is not a thing. The word is "INDO", as in a derivation of "indica".

amyyanni 8:21 AM  

Very amusing Sunday. Also appreciate Rex featuring Jim Bouton's "Ball Four," a classic. If the constructors had gone on to one more, we'd have 2 × 5, or TEN. What would you add as a 5th theme? Ten Commandments? Ten speed? Ten Most Wanted? Or a terse TV cop 10 - 4?

Joe Welling 8:50 AM  

I don't know the etymologies, but BEDECK seems like a cognate of "Decorate"--as in "Deck the halls" (the clue for TIS).

I liked the theme, but I sort of wanted another pattern that didn't pan out. The first themer, "one," crossed TWO at the first letter. The second, "two," crossed at the second letter. But then that pattern broke down for the other two.
Also, because there were 4 themers crossing a 3 letter word, TWO intersects twice at O and once at the other two letters.

Lewis 8:58 AM  

@amyyanni -- Five-gallon hat? But couldn't have gone to five in this theme because it has no letters to cross TWO with...

Gio 8:59 AM  

@okaganer and others: The correct answer for Star man? is BOWIE not SAGAN. Then I had the Z so changed BOWIE to ZIGGY (stardust).
I guess that was just me?

Nancy 9:20 AM  

The themers are cute and nicely chosen. They left me wondering: Are there any TWO-LETTER swear words? And what would happen with a body if you buried it THREE FEET UNDER? So I really enjoyed that aspect of the puzzle.

But it is awfully easy. Once you've got the trick, you've got it. With a Sunday puzzle and all that real estate involved, you really do need to keep the solver guessing on every theme answer. And there really should be more of them than you find here. The TWO/TWO/TWO/TWO part of the puzzle -- in shaded squares, yet -- doesn't really add to the theme density as far as I'm concerned.

My one nit today is the exact same sort of nit I had yesterday with what I saw as a non-equivalent answer to the 14A clue. Today it's "I. Can't. Even" supposedly meaning JUST WOW. If I used these phrases at all, which I don't, "I. Can't. Even." would indicate great disapproval -- as in: "I can't even begin to describe how obnoxious he is!" My equivalent phrase would be DON'T GET ME STARTED. Whereas JUST WOW would indicate overwhelming approval: (Did you see that touchdown pass in the 4th quarter???!!! JUST WOW!)

That nit aside, an amusing and enjoyable but not particularly challenging puzzle. Very pleasant to solve, though.

Rube 9:23 AM  

Poor effort but Wednesday Friday clue was fun. Doesn't compensate for the rest of this mess. Here are two examples.OAK at 59a and PETE at 73a. Maybe others know who pete the cat is but for me it stops at Fritz and Felix. The thing is, so many other better ways to clue these. We are using state quarters as sources for clues Now? Come on. Try a little harder

KnittyContessa 9:27 AM  

What a boring Sunday puzzle. Ditto for me on the ZAGAT clue. It looks like it had a star rating system for 4 out of its 35+ years and is currently back to a numerical system. Plus, it was developed and run by a husband and wife team! Not cool.

SouthsideJohnny 9:31 AM  

I was definitely sorry to see how brutally the whole ZAGAT v.v. stars situation was botched - which really should be inexcusable at this level. I guess they feel like they can do whatever they feel like. The rest of it was for the most part enjoyable (save of course OPI and APIA).

Many of the things that I don’t like about the NYT’s approach/mindset are encapsulated in the clue and answer for 102D (MAORI) - just total Dark Matter. The clue provides virtually nothing of value - the answer is technically a real word, but 99%+ of the people who solve will have no idea and it is not discernible, so why even bother having a clue ?

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

The JINN/ENDO crossing could have been so many other things too, if you're not up on Arabian spirits and marijuana. The N seemed like the obvious guess but no sure thing.

And I had LOLs/sAGAT and figured I just didn't know what sAGAT was. I figured it had something to do with the Screen Actors' Guild.


Blue Stater 9:42 AM  

A simply horrendous, four- or five-way, Natick at around Mondana (6A and environs). Dear Lord. The gimmick works, but as OFL pointed out it's sorta thin. I do so wish we could return to gimmick-free Sundays, at least.

daveyhead 9:43 AM  

I second Amyyani about Ball Four. A seminal book of my young adolescence. Bouton taught me it was ok to think differently. Many of the catch phrases (especially the profane ones) survive in my repertoire to this day. I call a coworker “Mr. Small Stuff” because of his obsession with, well, small stuff. If you’re a baseball fan and you’ve never read it, you should.

nsitaram 9:44 AM  

Can someone explain 40 down “Wednesday but not Friday” clue and how the answer is addams?

skua76 9:45 AM  

Large print option, I discovered…

Knitwit 9:50 AM  

Wednesday is the daughter in The Addams Family

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

To me authentic internet laughs are "lols", but sarcastic ones are "lulz" as in doing something "for the lulz". Don't think I've ever seen anyone on the internet say "LOLZ" so that combined with my ignorance of nail polish brands made this one take me about eight minutes longer than it ought to have.

David Plass 9:56 AM  

Also, Zagat is TWO people: Nina and Tim Zagat...

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

For nsitaram at 9:44 AM
Wednesday is the daughter of the Addams family. Originally and brilliantly created by Chas. Addams as New Yorker cartoons and later popularized on TV and on the big screen.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  


Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Agree re LOLZ: literal expressions of joy, not sarcastic.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Learned a few things today.

Google chewed on and spat out Zagat, and did the same with Frommer's.
Lief is an archaic adverb.
Sternutation is a stuffy sneeze.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Yes re Zagat clue neglecting Nina! Long profile in the NYT Magazine at one point, as I recall. That's how I knew!

masfamoso 10:11 AM  

Nsitaram: Wednesday is the first name of the daughter in the fictional "Addams Family" (TV, film, cartoon). There is no Friday Addams.

Carola 10:13 AM  

Medium for me. I found it hard to get a grip up top - my first entry was APIA, and I was never so happy to see a NIBLET of creaky crosswordese to at least get something in the grid. Eventually I figured out how the DOUBLE CROSS worked and things sped up in the second half. Cute theme, if a little sparse. I agree with @Rex on the creative working-in of the vertical TWOs. Also liked WIRETAPPING sharing a row with LOUDMOUTH. Was hoping for "fain" before LIEF. I enjoyed this one, more because it challenged me than for a JUST WOW (in @Nancy's sense, 9:20) at the theme.

Birchbark 10:13 AM  

WHA? HUH? DON'T ASK. I was THREE FEET UNDER the FOURBALL at the end. First time in EONS I've run the alphabet to finish: LOLZ/ZAGAT. But to even tee that guessing game up, I looked up APIA in my atlas and OPI by typing in "Nail Polish" on Amazon.com. A dose of humility to anchor the good days.

Then I see ARDEN wood in the corner, and all is well.

thefogman 10:31 AM  

Aimee’s unthemed puzzles in The New Yorker magazine are usually very good. The gimmick wasn’t worth it in this case.

JD 10:34 AM  

Lamarr, the new Owlet. Apparently, these are Hedy times. And they should be. With James, Jones, Atwood and Mott you've some powerful women here.

An easily sussible theme, as evidenced by the fact that I got it.

Do I gather that when my daughter is responding with LOLZ to one of my rants, she's being sarcastic? It's a Question of Perplexion (the word that broke spell check). I. Can't. Even. @Nancy, Pretty sure that refers to just being speechless. Can't find the words. I think it's the incredulous form of Wow.

NYT, until you come up with someone more famous that a guy who was a Pulitzer finalist 16 years ago, just stick with Brian. Maybe spend less research time trying to make things like Eno and MDs more challenging and more time on clue accuracy? I commend and encourage the effort but pick your battles.

Nice Sunday. Fun stuff.

OffTheGrid 10:43 AM  

@LMS. Pretty sure I get your avatar, even though I don't know the person in the SW position. Like it!

misterarthur 10:50 AM  

"Grok", eh? It's 2021

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

According to Wikipedia:

Zagat guide ratings are on a five-point scale, 5 being the highest and 1 is the lowest, with component ratings for defined areas, e.g., for restaurants, including food, decor, and service (with cost also being estimated).[8] In addition to numeric scores, the survey also includes a short descriptive paragraph that incorporates selected quotations (typically a few words) from several reviewers' comments about each restaurant or service, as well as the pricing and rating information.

just saying....


Joseph Michael 10:56 AM  

Guessed right on the JINN/ENDO cross but guessed wrong on the LOLZ/ZAGAT. Otherwise a pretty easy Sunday with a theme that made no attempt to conceal itself in cleverness.

THREE FEET UNDER was my favorite themer since It reminded me of “Six Feet Under,” the hit TV series with the best final episode EVER.

Also liked TWO LETTER WORDS and wonder how it came to be in the history of the English language that most dirty words are spelled with exactly four letters. A linguistic ENIGMA for sure.

People meet for the first time at an ALTAR and get married while America watches over a bowl of popcorn? Isn’t that taking reality TV a little too far? JUST WOW.

Barbara S. 11:06 AM  

Like just about everybody, I got hung up in the area of LOLZ, APIA, OPI and ZAGAT, but I’d also add LAPD (no idea which police force was first to hire a woman). I guess the L was a gimme because internet laughter was probably going to be some variation on LOL, but because it was “sarcastic”, I thought anything goes. I feel, though, that APIA and OPI should have tripped off my fingertips without thought because they both come up all the time. They’re part of the glossary of crosswordese that should be in my head, and I hope I’ve now added them for all time. I remember the print versions of the ZAGAT guides (they were black paperbacks) from my days in the bookstore, but connecting them to “Star man” wasn’t going to happen. (Connecting Carl Sagan didn’t happen either – I kept thinking the reference was to some figure in a constellation, like the Archer in Sagittarius, but wait – he’s a “star centaur” so forget it).

I wondered about SCULL being an “implement” because I thought it was a type of boat, so good to find out the term can also refer to oars (and technique). I wondered about the acceptability of OKD as a past tense. And, NIBLET, hmm. I guess it’s not just a commercial word made up by the Green Giant Company way back when (ho, ho, ho). I always liked DINA Merrill. She was classy. (As befits the real-life Post cereals heiress.) But I used to get her and her name mixed up with Diana Muldaur – ADDLEd thinking, DON’T ASK. Can the concept of “musicianship” be reduced to the single word EAR? Another hmm. Or is this a Joaquin’s dictum case? And, just so you know, I somehow thought JINN started with D.

I liked the explosive power of POP A WHEELIE, the dryness of DROP IT, and the the olde-world feel of LIEF, DRINK IN and DARED NOT. Good to see fellow-Canuck Peggy ATWOOD at 1D. I shuddered at FLOOD. And who knew that SNEEZing was sternutation?? From the same root as “sternum”, I presume.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

LOLZ is not sarcastic.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Thanks to those who pointed out that Blackink is a solving option. I don't like the NYT software.

Also, not only is the acrostic missing from its usual spot, but there's a typesetting error.

I don't know what's going on over at the NYT, but if they're trying to antagonize their customers, they're doing a good job.

bocamp 11:19 AM  

Did the puz on the NYT website for a change. The grayed cells were barely perceptible, and I didn't pay enough attention to DOUBLE CROSSES, to fully appreciate the theme. Just thot, DOUBLE the respective numbers. I'll eat a partial dnf on that lapse.

Wanted Sagan (in good company), but UTERI wasn't havin' it.

Sam Ezersky doesn't like LIEF.

BALL FOUR: great book! (hi @Rex / @amyyanni (8:21 AM)/ @daveyhead (9:43 AM))

ZAGAT stars: (hi @chance2travel (7:15 AM), and good catch re: leaving Nina out of the equation! (hi @David Plass (9:56 AM / @Anonymous (10:07 AM)).Couldn't find anything re: a newer point scale.(hi @chance2travel (7:15 AM) /@KnittyContessa (9:27 AM))

"… in 2016, Zagat switched to a system that scores restaurants on a scale of one to five stars. Zagat converted all of its ratings to the new star system, which was easy enough to comprehend. A restaurant previously rated 29 points for food and 28 points for decor would now have 4.9 stars for food and 4.8 stars for decor, respectively." (EATER)

Selmersba (3:31 AM)

In addition to @Z (4:48 AM)'s suggestion: looks like the 'Large Print' option on the NYT online version will also do the trick. (hi @skua76 (9:45 AM))

pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Unknown 12:11 PM  

didn't much enjoy this puzzle but 110a Big believer in freedom of assembly
(ikea) is my new favorite clu

RooMonster 12:13 PM  

Hey All !
Pretty neat. Fun how TWO has the letters to CROSS ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR. Agreed with Rex that theme seemed thin, I think it was Revealer saying "... hint to four answers...", which had the ole brain thinking there would only be four Themers. But then, Rex pointed out that there is actually eight Themers, as the CROSSing Downs were part of it, or else there wouldn't be a theme without them. Plus the Revealer, so Nine total themey thingies. Much better.

Very cool TWO themers, phrases/words that you wouldn't immediately see TWOs in (well, at least I wouldn't...). ATWOOD, ATWORST, ITWORKS, JUSTWOW. WOW. 😁

84 Blockers, but that's due to the Jaws on the sides. Funky looking block of blockers that looks like someone Walking Like an Egyptian. Or a YOGA pose.

Puz started tough for me, but had to go do something, so paused it, and when I came back, it was flying-fingers-across-the-keyboard action. Wow, maybe I need to get the blood flowing first, instead of waking up and doing puz shortly thereafter. That still doesn't work for the SB. I've been getting Spanked lately on that!

NOTIcIES to NOTIFIES, which is cool changing a C to an F! It looks, though, like NOT IFIES. "Certain?" could've been the clue. Har. Or should I say LOLZ.

Did REALIZE it was ZAGAT. I have heard of said review thingie. But initially wanted sAGAT. As Bob SAGAT is a TV Star. Full House anyone? (The original one.) America's Funniest Home Videos? Or am I just old? Or a TWIT? (Yes on that, as the Monty Python board I used to frequent, my mom de plume was Twit of the Year. 😁)

This old TWIT is OFF. (Take that statement as you will!)

Seven F's (I'm HIP TO that!)

Unknown 12:14 PM  

110a "Big believer in freedom of assembly" (Ikea) is my new favorite clue.

Richard 12:15 PM  

I had a different problem with ZAGAT. I had the GAT part but had no clue as to the Z and A crosses. All I could think of was cuGAT (as in Xavier), which gave me LOLc (for sarcastic internet laughter) and APIu (for Samoan capital). Both seemed at least plausible to me. Not technically a natick because I do know about the ZAGAT rating system, but for some reason it never came to mind. I do remember that in my early youth Cugat was kind of a star. Recuerdes?

Back in the mid-80's we lived for a year in Strafford, Vermont, a tiny hamlet just up the mountain from Dartmouth. Therein, across from the town green, lay a small restaurant called STONESOUP. A gourmet restaurant in Strafford! Who'da thunk it. Googled it, and it's still there.

Ezra Freeman 12:25 PM  

Wow I was sure that LOLZ was LOLS, and then you had SAGAN, which made "Places for development" into UNERI, which I believed to be some sort of scientific term. It all makes sense now...

Optimistic Misspeller 12:50 PM  

If you convince yourself that Bob Saget's name is spelled Sagat, and all you know about him is that he's a TV guy who sometimes shows up in crosswords, it's a small step to conclude that maybe he was a panelist on one of those "who gets to be a star" shows.

Anyone not really, really old. 12:57 PM  

@Boomers - If you think LOLZ means funny, not sarcastic, you're missing the point of our saying your dad-jokes made us LOLZ.

thefogman 1:04 PM  

What a DOUBLECROSS Mike Richards pulled on lovers of Jeopardy by staging a phony contest only to declare himself as winner and the new host of the show. Alex Trebek must be rolling in his grave.

Richard in NM 1:13 PM  

Sorry to the other Richards on this blog. I signed my post @ 12:15pm (re ZAGAT and STONESOUP) as Richard, when I meant Richard in NM. Mea culpa.

Masked and Anonymous 1:21 PM  

ok SunPuz. Nuthin flashy.

Like most of the planet, M&A got messed up at LOLZ/ZAGAT. There were two wayz for m&e to go, there:

1. It's gotta be LOLS, so I guess I don't know SAGAT.
2. It's gotta be ZAGAT, so I guess I don't know LOLZ.

M&A went with guess #1. No solvequest perfecto-bonus at our house, today.

And, mess#2 … the TWOFACED themer was tough on my nanoseconds. Since ONEFACED ain't a thing, and since TWOFACED was the first thing I got in that area, the rest of the corner's fill was eludin m&e for quite a spell. Gettin TWOLETTERWORDS finally helped clear all that mess up.

staff weeject pick: TWO. A.k.a. TWT, which is what I had for the shaded letters in 1-D, for many messy moments.

some fave sparkly moments: DONTASK. JUSTWOW. POPAWHEELIE. LOUDMOUTH. The TWO Jaws of Themelessness.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Aimee & Ella darlins. Apt, that a TWO-theme would have two constructioneers.

Masked & Anonymo11Us

illustrated. recommend usin that there DownHome option:

CDilly52 1:28 PM  

Fabulous puzzle mode, @okanaganer. Toughie to do.

CDilly52 1:29 PM  

@Joe D: This little piece of the puzzle nearly confounded me for exactly the reason you describe!

Anoa Bob 1:37 PM  

This one seemed light on theme and heavy on black squares, including a couple of stealth bomber silhouette hold-overs from yesterday. All those black squares give the grid a chopped up (minced?) look and result in a swarm of three and four letter entries. A cursory count tallied 74 of them, more than half of the total 142 words. After a steady diet of OPI, OST, OKD, LEA, EAP, AIG, LOLZ, ONOR, JINN, MOTT, and so on, I dang near SPAT. And all that for only four themers and a reveal. We often see that much theme in a weekday 15X15. (I don't think those TWOs Down measure up to being full-fledged themers, more like themerettes.)

ENDO (78D) is yet another example of the deterioration of the English language that is so prevalent in the electronic social media age. The clue is "High-quality cannabis, in slang". Time was when the answer would be some colorful, evocative word or phrase like "Acapulco Gold", "Panama Red", "Maui Wowie or Maui Waui", "Thai Sticks", "Good Shit" and stuff like that. Now strong weed is....ENDO? That's just sad.

TTrimble 1:38 PM  

Solved this in less time than for Saturday's, which took less time than Friday's. Good stuff in there, although the theme was sort of simple (amusing in places, like ONE-FACED). Most of what I would say about the puzzle has already been said, so I'll just confine myself to some side commentary.

@Barbara S.
You're not wrong; it has multiple transliterations from the Arabic: Djin, Djinn, JINN, etc. You probably knew it's where we get the word "genie". There could also be crossover with the word "genius" (Quora for example has something on this, although I don't put much trust in Quora; also Wikidif murmurs something along these lines. There's an old meaning of "genius" as guiding or guardian spirit, which connects better with "genie".

Thanks for the info on the mysterious ZAGAT star.

The LOLZ can be used ironically, but I think LuLZ is more common for that. "I did it for the lulz."

Brian ENO has a brother Roger ENO, also a musician. I have a taste for "ambient" music, which is where you're likely to hear him. Here's an 2xENO collaboration.

dbyd still pg -1, yd 0, td pg -1.

@bocamp, I was sure you'd complete yesterday's. I recall you had a pangram or two out there. Was it a past tense verb, or was it a noun? One of the nouns will be something not everyone knows.

I think there's an Acrostic out today, which I'll get to later.

Rex enjoins us to do LOLLAPUZZOOLA (LOLZ!), asking, "It's late August, what else do you have to do?" Um, lots!? The semester is beginning soon, dontcha know.

A 1:48 PM  


PhysGraf 2:12 PM  

Ezersky also doesn't like NIBLET!

bocamp 2:15 PM  

@TTrimble (1:38 PM) πŸ‘ for 0 yd

Yw :) According to a few posters, ZAGAT has gone back to some version of the point system. A very cursory look on Google didn't lead to anything definitive, tho. πŸ€”

Wrt yd's SB, I got the verb very quickly and the penultimate came late in the day, which led to my friend ErnΕ‘ esp-ing me just before bedtime with the last one. I would have tabbed it, tho, had the bulb not lit up. :)

Re: the Acrostic; am I missing something? Last one I see is from Aug. 1.

pg -1 (a 6er doesn't want to give it up) :(

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

@bocamp - you have to go to the acrostic page, and you'll see it there.

JC66 3:05 PM  

AcrossLite doesn't have any shaded squares, so it took a few nanoseconds to notice the TWOs crossing the themers.

@Anon 2:37

Where's the acrostic page?

Pistachio Rib Relish 3:06 PM  

Naticked at Nail Polish/Samoan Capital.
Ran through half of the alphabet to finish.

Shackfu 3:07 PM  

A Horrible Slog. DNF.

TTrimble 3:16 PM  

td 0

I saw an Acrostic there; maybe look again? This one played really fast (came within a minute of my PR). The author of the quote has been in the NYTXW (at least as part of a clue) and is well-known for an eponymous reason. However, there is definitely a mistake in the grid, one that is trivially fixable.

bocamp 4:08 PM  

@Anonymous (2:37 PM) / @TTrimble (3:16 PM)

Thx, but don't see an Acrostic page. I see the usual Games with Acrostic listed under 'Variety Puzzles'. Clicking on that brings me to the Aug. 1 puz. :(

Would someone be kind enuf to provide an URL or hyperlink. TIA :)

@TTrimble 3:16 PM πŸ‘ for 0

pg -1 (wheels still spinning) :(

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

JC66 4:13 PM  


Me, too.

I emailed nytgames@nytimes.com and got the usual boiler plate response "Your request (1661821) has been received and is being reviewed by our support staff."

I'll let you know if/when I find it.

Stephen Minehart 4:39 PM  

I liked this, if only for JUSTWOW, which is pretty awesome in my book. Factually, I'm pretty sure LOLZ is not sarcastic, and Star Man kinda slights Nina Zagat, plus they're points not stars, but whatever. Also, it's INDO, not ENDO. I cite the lyrics to Mr. Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice" as my authoritative source.

TTrimble 4:44 PM  

@bocamp, @JC66

It's a puzzlement (ha! see what I did there?), but here is a URL: https://www.nytimes.com/puzzles/acrostic/2021/08/15. Hope this helps.

Howard 4:57 PM  

A little more history regarding the Zagat guide. Tim and Nina Zagat were associate attorneys in NYC in the 80’s (as was I)who offered to circulate mimeographed restaurant reviews that we all wrote. It’s original purpose was to help us new professionals learn about the reataurant world of NYC. They ran with it and took our little mimeo sheets into something bigger and better. There is more to tell but kudos always to Tim and Nina zagat.

JC66 5:14 PM  


Thanks for the link. Weird, even though is reads 2021/08/15 in my browser, it took me to a Nov 9, 2020 acrostic (My memory is similar to @Nancy's, so I'll enjoy solving it).

puzzlehoarder 5:24 PM  

I hate to admit it but I fell for the LOLs dnf. Like others I was thinking SAGAN but UTERI was much too solid. When the "rating" lightbulb finally went off I just never made that leap to the Z inspite of all the use that Zagat has had in puzzles. It was late last night and I'm chalking this one up to crosswordese fatigue.

Why do kids even add that Z in the first place. I only hope I live to see their thumbs become arthritic.

bocamp 5:32 PM  

@JC66 (4:13 PM)

Thx, it'll be interesting to hear what they say. Btw, I've checked the NYT app on my iPad: same issue. :(

@TTrimble (4:44 PM)

Thx; same result as @JC66. πŸ€”

@JC66 (5:14 PM)

Same goes for my memory, so I'll be happy doing the Nov. 9, 2000 with you. :)

pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

JC66 5:49 PM  


Enjoy...it's a real workout. πŸ˜‚

clue seeker 5:58 PM  

am i the only one who couldnt figure what addams is Wednesday but not Friday?

TTrimble 6:18 PM  

Well, I'll be! I hadn't even noticed; I just clicked on the box dated today's in the Archives, was taken to the puzzle, and solved it without even glancing at the date shown on the actual page. But you're right.

Oh well. Please let me know if they respond.

JC66 6:19 PM  

@clue seeker

No. See @nsitaram 9:44 was the first of a few to ask the question which was answered multiple times; first by @Knitwit at 9:50.

@bocamp & @TTrimble

I just refreshed the NT Times puzzle page and it now shows tomorrow's Mini & Crossword, but, alas, the other puzzzles weren't updated.

Masked and Anonymous 6:52 PM  

Well, for what it's worth, I was able to access & print the "August 15 acrostic" from xwordinfo.com home page.

M&A Help Desk

Mitch 7:22 PM  

On the 60s show The Addams Family, the daughter’s name was Wednesday

Pkv Games 7:28 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JC66 7:33 PM  

The plot thickens.

At @M&A's suggestion, I went to xwordinfo.com and clicked on the Acrostic. It directed me here which is the same puzzle @TTrimble provided, but was dated 9/9/20 instead of 8/15/21.

bocamp 7:59 PM  

@JC66 (6:19 PM)

Yup, no prob. getting tomorrow's xword, and got today's Acrostic thx to @M & A's xwordinfo site tip.

@Masked and Anonymous (6:52 PM)

Thx for the tip; able to do it online, as well! :)

pg -1

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Colin 8:05 PM  

Late to the game today... Was working and only got to this puzzle on the (train) commute home. DNF and only had time to look at Rex's comments just now.

My only comment: I did not get ZAGAT, but am very familiar with the Zagat guides, which my wife introduced me to (and she was introduced to Zagat's by her parents). We had guides for Baltimore, Washington DC, San Francisco, New York. Loved these guides - we swore by them. This was, of course, before the Internet (and Yelp, etc.).

BTW, we pronounced it "ZAY-gaht" (accent on first syllable) for many years, then learned it's "Zuh-GAT" (rhymes with "the cat").

JC66 8:12 PM  

Well, I was able to get hold of a copy of today's NY Times Magazine and the Acrostic is the same one provided by @TTtimble and @M&A.

Why @TTrimble's had the wrong date remains a mystery.,

Ho 8:35 PM  

Didn't have that issue

TTrimble 8:36 PM  

Next question. I assume you solved the Acrostic. Did you also see the grid glitch I referred to earlier?

dbyd 0. Gee whillikers, that last one almost killed me. Just not a word you see or hear much (hint: 7 letters).

JC66 8:42 PM  


Yep. Spaced me out. πŸ˜‚

bocamp 8:58 PM  

@TTrimble (8:36 PM) πŸ‘ for dbyd 0 (way to persevere!)

So, your (4:44 PM) link did actually point to today's Acrostic, altho, it's dated Nov. 9, 2000. Thx for the clarification @JC66 (8:12 PM), and for your tip, @Masked and Anonymous (6:52 PM). :)

pg -1

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

JC66 9:16 PM  


BTW, the NT Times Magazine doesn't have the glitch.

Joe Dipinto 9:16 PM  

@Howard 4:57 – Thanks for that little bit of background on the Zagat guide. I remember when it first came out, it was so cool, and really useful.

You might remember this: for awhile they had a regular feature with very funny negative review blurbs that were excluded from the guide (the restaurants were unnamed of course). It couldn't have been in the yearly guide, I feel like it was a weekly or monthly thing, but I don't remember where it appeared. Does that ring a bell?

Scrumpythegreat 9:35 PM  

Well, I think we can all agree that "Lolz" is an idiotic, redundantly plural,twittish,non-acronym for nothing that has no place in the Nytimes crossword puzzle.

Anonymous 4:24 AM  

I’m adding to the chorus that OPI crossing APIA was a natick. Worse than usual since OPI is apparently a brand name. LOLZ does not mean “sarcastic internet laughter” in my experience or according to online sources I checked. Even if it did it’s a very bad answer, we don’t need such “words” in the crossword.

Good theme though.

clue seeker 10:51 AM  

never would have gotten that answer. thank u

Unknown 10:54 AM  

Okay. So. Please explain, in detail, the relevance of 'fourball/eightball' to the clue. I have read Ball Four but still see no connection.
Also agree with the comments on Zagat/Sagan/Bowie.
Not the best Sunday puzzle, but good enough.

Anonymous 3:59 PM  

I don't understand the beleaguered clue for eight ball :(

stephanie 10:29 PM  

@anoa bob ENDO is actually incorrect. the term is INDO, and that has been around long before social media. ENDO is/would be sad, i agree. i had KUSH and then KINE before i realized it was INDO...but then realized the puzzle was going to make me type something that wasn't even the right answer. boooooooo

stephanie 10:31 PM  

@Unknown 10:54 & @Anonymous 3:59 "behind the eight ball" means "at a disadvantage", i.e. beleaguered.

stephanie 10:41 PM  

this theme could have been cool but it wasn't. maybe because the first one i uncovered was TWOLETTERWORDS crossing ATWORST where TWO crosses TWO so it makes a perfect TWO "+" TWO = FOUR. i thought that was so cool...but then...i realized that 2 of the 4 areas where the other TWOs went were positioned so that a "+" couldn't even be made, and that the rest of the fills intersected randomly with TWO and the whole thing turned boring. the individual answers throughout weren't even bad, but the execution of the theme just put a damper on this one for me.

Philip Marlowe, P.I. 6:28 PM  

It totally ADDLEd me. Lolz.

spacecraft 9:29 AM  

A rare DNF weekend, on account of 6a and 7 & 9d. I have no idea what an internet sarcastic laugh is, I certainly don't know nail polish brands, and who the hell is Zagat? Wait, is that the restaurant critic? So, he gives out "stars?" Oh, come on. That's way out there. would never have guessed LOLZ anyway. Hopeless.

Burma Shave 12:31 PM  


THAT for CUSTOMERs she'll BALL jerks


Diana, LIW 4:44 PM  

Only had to look up one PPP name, so I consider this a total success. ;-)

Not bad for a Sunday Morning's entertainment.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the Stars of Zagat

Diana, LIW 6:40 PM  

Oops - I also didn't get the Arabian mythical spirit and cannabis cross. Natick of the month for me.

Diana, LIW

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